Boeing CEO Apologizes To Crash Victims’ Families Amid Senate Grilling

Boeing Hearing

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun faced intense scrutiny from U.S. senators and emotional confrontations from victims’ families during a congressional hearing on Tuesday.

The hearing focused on Boeing’s culture and safety practices following recent incidents and past crashes.

During the testimony, Calhoun apologized to family members of plane crash victims who were present and vocally expressed their anguish.

Despite his assurances that Boeing had “learned” from its mistakes and improved its whistleblower process, lawmakers criticized Calhoun for failing to address a persistent culture of retaliation against employees who raised safety concerns.

The hearing came in the wake of an incident where a door panel fell off a new 737 Max plane during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, highlighting ongoing production issues. Whistleblowers had previously reported serious production problems with the 737 Max, the 787 Dreamliner, and the 777 models.

Calhoun, who became CEO in 2020 and plans to step down later this year, attributed many issues to an “untrained workforce,” citing layoffs and high turnover in the industry post-COVID as contributing factors.

“So much of this is related to an untrained workforce. It’s all about that, honestly,” Calhoun stated.

Boeing has been under fire since the crashes of two 737 Max aircraft five years ago, which resulted in the deaths of 346 people. Family members of the victims attended the hearing, holding pictures of their loved ones and demanding accountability.

Zipporah Kuria, whose father died in the 2019 crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8, flew from England to Washington, D.C., to hear Calhoun’s testimony.

“I also continue to press the US government to hold Boeing and its corporate executives criminally responsible for the deaths of 346 people. We will not rest until we see justice,” she said.

Clariss Moore, whose daughter died in a 2019 Boeing crash in Ethiopia, emotionally confronted Calhoun during the hearing, questioning him about her daughter’s final moments.

“Did she call for me? Did someone hold her hands?” Moore demanded.

Committee Chairman Richard Blumenthal thanked the families for their courage and demanded answers about Boeing’s efforts to rectify its safety culture. Calhoun admitted to not speaking directly with whistleblowers and acknowledged instances of retaliation within the company.

“I know it happens,” he said, though he could not specify how many employees had faced consequences for raising safety concerns.

Calhoun, visibly emotional, turned to the families during the hearing to apologize for their losses.

“They’re gut-wrenching,” he said, his voice breaking, “and I apologize for the grief that we have caused.”

Boeing’s chief engineer, Howard McKenzie, also testified, asserting that there is “absolutely” a culture of safety within Boeing’s engineering team.

Despite Calhoun’s testimony, Senator Blumenthal expressed dissatisfaction with the CEO’s answers and indicated that the investigation would continue.

“I have a lot more questions that need to be answered, and we’re going to be pursuing our investigation,” he told BBC News.

The U.S. Justice Department launched a criminal investigation into Boeing’s practices in May, and several family members at the hearing voiced their hopes for criminal charges against the company.